Government Shutdown Is Affecting Food Inspections

NJTV News | January 15, 2019 | More Issues
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer asks for state and county health officials to fill the gap caused by furlough of many FDA inspectors

With 41 percent of the Food and Drug Administration’s food inspectors furloughed due to the ongoing partial government shutdown, the FDA has narrowed its mission.

The FDA is “focusing on following up on emergencies, responding to recalls and outbreaks and also looking at high-risk facilities,” said Sarah Sorscher, Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “In general, high-risk foods that FDA is focusing on include cheeses … include produce, they include seafood, generally the kind of foods a consumer might think to put in their refrigerator because they’re perishable.”

Diners are worried. “I think it’s crazy that simple things, like they can’t even regulate the food, so who knows what we’re eating,” said Totowa resident Nicole Tremble.

And the threat is real. Every year, one in six Americans get a foodborne illness. “Whether it’s listeria with ice cream, salmonella in cereal, and of course, E. coli in romaine lettuce, we understand this plays havoc with our health,” said Dr. Suraj Saggar, infectious disease chief at the Holy Name Medical Center.

In a news conference at the center, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer said he has asked county and state health officials to step up and help inspect food facilities in New Jersey.

Read the full story on NJTV News Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.